Involved

The Chinese character for the word busy is 忙. It is “kill” and “heart,” which makes sense because when you’re busy, you’re basically crowding your soul. Smart, them Chinese. There have been times in my life that I looked at my plate and realized I went crazy at the buffet. It seemed there was no way I was going to get everything done without disappointing somebody. And that’s the thing about being busy – somebody winds up disappointed. Somebody gets their heart broken – or killed, as in the Chinese character, which shows they have a flare for dramatics, too.

So I’m not busy – busy is a bad thing. As a matter of fact, I’m swamped. My volunteering hours have cut deep into my family time, blogging time, reading time and let’s not mention house cleaning. As for dinner? Hah! I shamefully admit to having served yogurt one night as an entree.

Bridget said it best in her post about volunteering and school fundraising. It is degrading and self-defeating – even more so, when I’m helping the candy company dangle prizes in our kids’ faces to get them motivated to sell. It would be worth it if I could promise the funds were going to something meaningful like musical instruments or to refurbish the library or purchase new gym equipment. But the sad truth is, most students in public school have a better chance of throwing up with Justin Bieber on stage than having music in their curriculum. The amount of chocolate we’d have to sell to replace worn books would finally drown Augustus Gloop and forget gym equipment – we don’t even have a gym teacher!

I can’t complain really – on a positive note, I watched the season premier episode of “The Walking Dead” without waking up in a cold-sweat nightmare because it was overridden by fundraising chocolate dilemmas. I doubt any of the parents we represent would appreciate that until they take a bite of the “Nutty Pleasures” and realize they named it – literally.

At times, I wonder – had I skipped the last meeting where I was suckered into becoming one of the Graeae Witches, I’d have time to do things for myself – cut my curling toenails, trim my Mr. Snuffleupagus eyebrows, take a five-minute shower – instead of hanging myself out to dry.

But my husband and the boys try to convince me we’re doing a good thing – making a difference, making changes. And sometimes, like when the security guard gets a crowd going with “We’re Going To Kentucky,” or “Punchinello”, I can feel a shimmer of hope. Then there’s Samu who put his search for rhyming words to use after learning a new word – dental hygienist. Apparently, that rhymes with penis – enough said.

In the search for the right words, I’ve knocked off “busy” and decided that in it’s place, I’ll just say I’m – involved. It’s a minor adjustment that keeps me sane while I wonder if any of my sleepless nights is helping anything at all. At the end of the day, I see this drawing that tells me that I’ve been going about it all wrong. All I needed – was a marker.

My comutiy HeLper is A Techer. She uses a marker.

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Where Ever We Go, Amigo

In my last post about my “Odd Couple,” Cheryl of Geek Girl commented that although my boys are opposites, I wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s right. No matter how unlike each other they are, they are best friends. Like my sister and I – like my mother and her brother. In my heart, I hope Zuki and Samu will always forgive each other no matter how idiotic the stunt is. Hey, if my mother and I forgave our younger siblings for up and dying, then really – what could be so bad other than denying the survivor the chance to have the last word.

Word. There, I said it.

Likewise, I constantly teach my boys to respect their friends. As a second generation American, I haven’t much family here – but friends – are my backbone. From experience I know that friends are the only people not obligated to respect you back. But if you earn their trust, you can bet you’ll never feel alone.

On the day off from school, we visited good friends who defected to Westchester. Okay, they just moved – but we never got over it. The older boys have known each other since they were babies and the younger siblings were just mere ideas. We still connect, the parents the kids and the gab in between – that’s a rarity and I cherish it.

All that said, my boys crossed the line during our last get together. They outcast the little sister (who’s the same age as Samu) by claiming their group for boys only. Things eventually got smoothed over, but I let them have it when we got home.

“Never, ever, ever cast out a friend or make him or her feel left out. Would you like it if someone did that to you?”

They hung their heads in shame. Samu said, “That would hurt my feelings.”

Exactly.

I told them if I ever caught them excluding their friends again, I’d make them sing the theme song for “Beaches” (a.k.a. The Wind Beneath My Wings). First of all, they’re afraid of Bette Midler and I understand, she looks like a drag queen. Second, the cheesy keyboard part is just too dated for them. They’d rather move like Jagger.

While I hope their own musical preferences improve, it’s not as pertinent as their keeping their word about respecting friends.

May they always be this happy together.

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Brothers, The Odd Couple

Some years ago, I trudged through “The Shack.” The writing was…”meh,” and the whole time, I pictured the main character – a father who lost his little daughter to a serial killer – as “Larry The Cable Guy” simply because his name was “Mack.” So that made it hard to take the book seriously. Still, I came away with something: that parents can’t have favorites – not even God.

Neither of my boys have had the slyness to ask me which of them is my favorite. I find that amazing because I remember constantly asking my mother whether I was her favorite and she would just ignore the question altogether, which is an answer on its own. The boys have, however, each accused me of loving the other more when I served what seemed like an uneven portion of ice cream or uncharacteristically paid a compliment to one for not screwing something up.

Truth is, if they were similar, I probably would compare them. How could you not? Fuji apples taste better than Gala apples but they don’t compare to Texas watermelon because it’s a known fact that apples go better with wine while watermelon is strictly for vodka. And I’m Sorry, oranges just don’t do it for me – even in Screwdrivers.

So after Samu and Zuki’s “Open House,” where parents get to meet the teacher and see the classroom, listen to the curriculum and look into their desk – this is what I discovered: I gave birth to the Odd Couple.

Felix Unger

Neat, huh? Almost, O.C.D-ish. Definitely not something I’d expect from a First Grader or either of my sons for that matter. But it is Samu’s desk. And just to make sure it was him and not the teacher, I checked out his classmates desks. They were slightly worse – than Zuki’s, which looked like this:

Oscar Madison

Can these two knuckleheads grow up together, without driving each other crazy?

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Education Pays

New York spends over $17,000 a year for a child to attend public school. Seventeen. Thousand. For one child.

On one hand, I look at Zuki and think, $68,000 dollars – for him to look at the clock and say,”It’s fifteen thirty.” Or “I runned in the cafeteria and falled down, so I didn’t ate anything.”

Which proves all the money in the world isn’t going to make somebody make sense.

And then there’s the other guy. Samu, who’s been working on his penmanship all summer long. Now that school has inspired him to achieve his goals, he’s putting his education to good use. “I need to make my Christmas list.”

Reserving the Vampyre Kastle

Armed with the Lego catalog he’s been studying every morning after breakfast, he wrote his list – neatly. Not only that, he estimated how much all the items would cost.

“Does Santa Claus have a lot of money?” He asked.

Well, nobody’s ever demanded that he show his tax returns, so I guess we’ll never know. Samu didn’t like that answer. He also didn’t buy that Santa runs a shop with elves making the toys because then it wouldn’t be “real Lego’s” but a generic copy. According to Samu, Santa collects money and orders everything. That’s why his list needed to get to there early. But just in case, Samu added a Metrocard to the list – should he have to pick it up himself.

Now that’s $17,000 worth of learning.

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Intrude!

Welcome to the first post of “Namzola Goodness.” Trust me, I know what I think I’m doing.

This is my third blog spot and I’m truly excited that you’re visiting because I have nothing to give away – except phobias. For New Yorkers, each phobia is a merit badge of a traumatic experience that was narrowly escaped. Personally, my phobias are New Jersey, cops and Catholic school students. For this post, I’m giving away three general phobias: the exhibitionist homeless person with violent tendencies; Central Park squirrels and Hot Pretzels from hot dog stands.

All you need to do is climb a high mountain top and scream “Maaaaaize!” Just make sure someone takes footage of it. And don’t die in the process – either of you. The first person to YouTube this buffoonery will receive all three phobias…somehow. And I’ll replace the poor footage of this jingle that started it all, with yours – as long as you include the jingle.

Credit goes to Swan, whose band Almighty Love Noise, dubbed me as “Namzola, corn goodness” during my tenure as rhythm guitarist. Other than pushing me to my musical limits, recruiting my most prized guitar and oh yeah, introducing me to my husband, all I came away with was another nickname that stuck.

Hopefully, you like corn.

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